#AgLife: G Bar G Veterinary

    There may be life off the ranch, but any Fremont County farmer or rancher will tell you – The #aglife is “the good life!” #Aglife is a County 10 series, brought to you by Wyoming Community Bank, that pulls the curtain back on farm and ranch life in Fremont County.

    Disclaimer: This post contains graphic images of veterinary work being done. Readers be advised.

    Head east from the stoplight on Monroe and South Federal Boulevard about a mile and turn right. If it’s a weekday, odds are livestock trailers, and pickups have lined the fences and the parking spaces adjoining the clinic. It’s just another hectic day at G Bar G Veterinary.

    The “G’s” separated by the Bar, are Glen and Gunda Gamble, a husband and wife team of veterinarians, the only spouses in Wyoming to operate a veterinary clinic jointly.

    They came to Riverton from very different backgrounds. Glen was born in Thermopolis, but from age four through high school graduation, he lived in Lusk, the bustling metropolis of Niobrara County.

    Dr. Gunda Gamble – h/t Randy Tucker

    Gunda Kalz was born in Germany, but her parents moved to South Carolina when she was three. They moved back to Germany 12 years later, and she went through the rigorous German education system before graduating and eventually heading to Oregon State University.

    Dr. Glen Gamble – h/t Randy Tucker

    Glen graduated from Niobrara County High School in 1977. His interests were academic, with a healthy dose of the outdoors, along with wrestling and football.

    “My biggest interest was intellectual. I was picking Dick Price’s (high school biology teacher) brain all the time. I’d hang out at the Lusk Carnegie Library. I spent every second I could there until they kicked me out to close,” Glen said. “I was into the outdoors. I read Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, and National Geographic.”

    Lusk is a classic western town situated on the edge of the Nebraska Sandhills, but there are limitations for a young, inquisitive mind.

    “My biggest regret in school was I didn’t have a lot of adult mentors outside of my Dad or Dr. Smiley (the local vet),” Glen said.

    Glen’s dad, Keith Gamble, was a lineman for Mountain Bell. In his early career, he connected rural, isolated homes with party lines, eventually moving to management.

    Glen’s mom, Beverly Julian, grew up on the family sheep ranch with 11 aunts and uncles. At one point, Beverly and her Aunt Virginia held an escaped convict at gunpoint with a six-shooter while they tied him up.

    Beverly took the train from Sage to Laramie as a student majoring in education. Her first teaching position was in a one-room schoolhouse.

    Dr. Glen and Gunda Gamble the only husband/wife veterinary team in Wyoming – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    Medicine goes far back into Glen’s lineage. The name Gamble and Campbell were once in the same Scottish Clan, but they separated into two lines. Cyrus Gamble (Glen’s great-grandfather) immigrated from Scotland to Canada and studied medicine.

    After becoming a physician, he was hired by the coal mines in Diamondville when he was 23. He is believed to be the first licensed doctor in Wyoming.

    On return trips from the University of Wyoming on the train, Beverly would pull the cord, whistling the engineer to stop at tiny, isolated Sage, where her family would pick her up.

    Keith and Beverly had three sons, Glen, Fred, and Ryan.

    “They had a Little Rascals childhood,” Gunda said. “Riding bikes, exploring, and playing outside. “

    At 17, Glen was on his own. His parents moved, and he stayed in an apartment in Lusk as a high school senior until graduation. He didn’t feel well for a long time as a young adult, and a later diagnosis found he was suffering from a five-year-long staph infection.

    At 24 years old, he was finally cured and grew four inches. The medical bills were daunting.

    Dr. Glen Gamble about to remove a squeaky toy from a dog’s stomach – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    He worked in grocery stores, as a janitor, and on oil rigs. His love of the outdoors led him to Jackson Hole, where he worked for a flooring company.

    “I was sitting in my little apartment in Jackson thinking I’ve got to do something different,” Glen said.

    At 29, he decided he wanted to go back to school and enrolled at the University of Wyoming.

    “My grades were stellar. After three semesters, I enrolled in veterinary school at Oregon State University,” Glen said.

    He found a mentor in Dr. Lynn Woodward, a PhD and DVM, and the head of the Veterinary Sciences program at UW.

    Dr. Gunda Gamble and her team work with a horse – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    “I lucked out and got him as an advisor. When I told him I wanted to be a vet, I know he laughed,” Glen said. “He sent me a letter to come to his office. I showed up in a t-shirt and jeans and he said, ‘No one goes to a major university after working for 10 years and aces every single one of his classes.’”

    Dr. Woodward found him a job at the vet lab in Laramie.

    “Because of his help, I got in a year early,” Glen said.

    He had been accepted into the veterinary programs at Kansas State, Colorado State, Washington State, and his choice, Oregon State University.

    At 31, he arrived at OSU, and three years later, he had a BS and a DVM, not the traditional path most take.

    He had advice for youngsters and older people alike, “If you’re smart, don’t be arrogant, use it.”

    A colt drops into the office to say hello – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    It was at Oregon State that he met Gunda Kalz, who was doing an externship with the university.

    Gunda studied veterinary medicine in Germany, graduating with a DVM, but the United States and Germany don’t have reciprocity in becoming a licensed veterinarian, and she had to pass rigorous requirements that took three years to complete.

    “I had to go back to Germany to graduate, and then prove my qualifications in the USA,” Gunda said. “I had tests to prove my knowledge and ability to do surgical procedures.”

    The testing was done at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

    The German educational system is much more challenging than K-12 education in America.

    “You can’t dink around in Germany because it is so competitive,” Gunda said. “The best vets are the ones who have exposure and work hard. You exercise all parts of your body, your brain, to decide how to proceed, and you have to be strong to work with animals. You also exercise your heart and your emotions.”

    Taige Lee with a guest bandit at the clinic – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    In Germany, she chose to study chemistry, biology, English, and German at Gymnasium (the German version of high school). She studied English, German, French, Latin, Spanish and Russian as well.

    “Learning languages makes you think about what you’re saying,” Gunda said. “It draws parallels from other cultures.”

    The intellectual aspects of becoming a veterinarian were well covered in her program of study in Germany, but the day-to-day, hands-on work came in Oregon.

    “You grow up around dairy cows in Germany,” Gunda said. “I worked with Dr. Frank Beckworth in Jordan Valley, Oregon. The first evening, I worked on two prolapses. I thought I could walk across this paddock with a bucket and supplies, but an 800-pound cow with her ears pinned back had other ideas. American cows are not German cows, and the ones in Oregon were wild because of mineral deficiencies.”

    Glen has concentrated on selenium deficiencies in cattle and noted the traditional absence of bison and elk in eastern Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

    Kari Root assists Dr. Glen Gamble in a surgery – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    “There are no bison or elk. You can draw a straight line from Western Montana south,” Glen said. “They have a lack of selenium, magnesium, and manganese. These areas are all covered with basalt from volcanic eruptions.”

    Gunda’s parents were children in the worst time in German history, during World War II and the years immediately after it ended. Her father was a Ph.D. chemist for Bayer and her Mom a physician.”

    When she was three, her parents decided to move across the Atlantic to either Mexico or the USA. They settled in Charleston, South Carolina.

    “I owe Germany a lot,” Gunda said. “In high school, I moved back to Germany. Gymnasium is rigorous and the university system is amazing.”

    They have two children, Agate, 27, and Kate, 26.

    Kate and Agate Gamble 24 years ago – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    “Our kids grew up in Fremont County, any school is what you make of it,” Gunda said. “We’d camp with them near college towns when they were growing up.”

    Agate is a counselor who works with children and young adults in outdoor settings.

    “She’s a chip off the old block,” Gunda said. “She takes after Glen.”

    Kate graduates this spring with a law degree from Laramie and already has a position with the State of Wyoming.

    Both girls were involved in the Wyoming Conservation Corps.

    Glen and Gunda Ganble’s elk ivory wedding rings reflect their love of animals and the outdoors – h/t Randy Tucker

    “They were already on track to be community-minded,” Gunda said. “It was one of the most interesting things in their lives.”

    Anyone who has spent time at the G Bar G clinic quickly realizes that Glen and Gunda don’t always agree on how to treat an animal in their care. Newcomers often think they are angrily arguing, but they are bouncing ideas off each other on how best to treat a unique case brought to their clinic.

    On any given day, the G Bar G clinic can be serene, or seem chaotic, and the change can come with the arrival of a critical care case in just an instant. In the process, they’ve met many people in Fremont County, perhaps as many as 10,000 over the years, from all walks of life.

    “I’d like to think we need to be more tolerant and care about different walks of life,” Gunda said. “I’d like to see a ranching and oil community like this bring in more aspects of life in the West.”

    Glen added, ”You have to deal with unexpected emergencies all day long. No matter where you went to school, you’ll find things you learn about from where you are at.”

    Dr. Gunda Gamble and her daughter Agate treating a circus tiger for ringworm – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    The G Bar G clinic has most of its work in cattle, horses, dogs, and cats, but tigers, skunks, moose, and raccoons have all been treated there. Both Glen and Gunda emphasize herd health over simply caring for a single sick animal.

    “We try to make people aware that herd health isn’t just an injection of LA200,” Gunda said.

    Glen Gamble and Kari Root work on a young moose – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    The importance of both bulls and cows in a herd is something Glen stresses.

    “The concept that bulls are half your herd is sometimes lost,” Glen said.

    After the couple were married, they started in Saratoga. Glen had worked in Powell before while Gunda was finishing up in Germany. In Carbon County, he worked as a vet while Gunda finished her work to qualify as an American veterinarian.

    In 1997, they began practicing together on Major Avenue, in the clinic where Dr. Jim Logan had practiced. They decided they needed their own facility, a facility built to their requirements.

    Glen Gamble and Taige Lee de-scenting a skunk – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    “We opted for the route that was better for us as beginning veterinarians to establish our practice,” Gunda said.

    “We spent months trying to get loans from banks and they asked what collateral we had. We said 40 years of education,” Glen said.

    Bob Hampton and Ed Bartel, owners of the Big Bend Land Company, were the answer.

    “Bob asked us what we needed. There was no risk to Bob. East Monroe worked for us because it was zoned commercial and agricultural. We were able to build a clinic where trailers didn’t have to back up,” Glen said.

    Dr. Gunda Gamble with her daily canine escort from home to the clinic – h/t Randy Tucker

    When they arrived, the home they moved into had been owned by the Lowe family. There was an 800-square-foot house with a little shop behind it. That tiny shop was their initial veterinary facility while they built their new clinic.

    Construction extended from just the building to the surrounding property.

    “We planted a hundred some trees, just sticks from the Nature Conservancy, Glen said. “We bought five trees from Sweetwater Gardens for nine dollars a piece now they’re about the biggest trees in Fremont County.”

    Those trees paid dividends just a few years after they moved into the clinic in 1998.

    A mouthful of trouble waiting for treatment – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    “West Nile hit. Horses with headaches and brain swelling, head pressing, muscle trembling from pain,” Gunda said. “We started to get quite a bit of shade that year, and it helped those horses.”

    With West Nile at epidemic levels among Fremont County horses, Glen and Gunda devised a technique to reduce the pain and swelling.

    “Shade, and DMSO in the vein to bring down the swelling,” Glen said. “Diluted DMSO in a nasal/gastric tube directly into the stomach. The Wyoming vet lab asked us to write up the procedure.”

    When their building was opened for business in 1998, that was the only structure they had at the location.

    Treating a dog that fell into a hot tar pit. The dog fully recovered and lived another seven years – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    “What’s all we had was this building; we had to add on everything else. Bob Hampton was a gigantic help to us,” Glenn said.

    A horse barn, corrals, chutes, and stalls soon arrived.

    “We were able to work on horses stuck in a river at 20 below with extreme hypothermia by heating our shop to 85 degrees,” Gunda said.

    Bob Hampton was a key player in the success of G Bar G.

    “Bob was a big deal for us. He had a great business mind for Fremont County,” Glen said.

    Dr. Glen Gamble and Taige Lee during a cesarean section – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    Gunda concurred with the role that Bob Hampton played for them.

    “Once Bob started to see how this was escalating, he said whatever money you want, I’m your bank. We were able to get a horse barn and build what we needed. We didn’t have to borrow that much but he was there, he was one of our heroes,” Gunda said.

    They’ve worked with about a quarter of the population of Fremont County over the last 25-plus years.

    “Half of our clientele is in Lander,” Glen said.

    The best advertising in any business is word of mouth, and that has helped the operation at G Bar G.

    “We have people that come to visit their parents and bring their dog because they heard we are good orthopedic surgeons,” Gunda said.

    They’ve been in business long enough to serve multiple generations.

    “We now have kids whose parents brought their dogs here coming back to bring their dogs to us,” Glen said.

    Quality, affordable care is the hallmark of rural animal medicine.

    Kari Root works on a dog that lost a fight with a porcupine – h/t G Bar G Veterinary

    “What we try to do here is to provide affordable care because people in rural areas don’t have the benefits and options,” Gunda said. “People don’t want to send their animals and spend $15,000 to CSU. I think all the vets around here do that. Whether you’re in a city or a rural area, these animals are part of the family. We try to figure out what you want us to do, and how far to take this.”

    Being a part of the community is important to both vets. Glen praised the work of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Audubon Society.

    “So many hunters come to this clinic because Gunda can do wonders with their horses,” Glen said. “To be successful in a business like this, it takes a lot of not just taking but giving as well.”

    They both praised their office manager, Kari Root, for all her work and for always going the extra mile.

    “Our place would not operate without Kari,” Gunda said.

    So, whether your dog needs a vaccination, your horse has a sore foot, or you have 500 cows that need a pregnancy check, G Bar G can provide those services.

    It’s a family business with its roots firmly planted in Fremont County.

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